React Post: Rosie the Riveter

Rosie the Riveter was a fictional character representing the millions of women who went to work in new wartime industries as part of World War II. While the famous propaganda posters are how most people remember Rosie now, she was actually first made popular through a 1942 song. The lyrics of the song are below (originally found at this site.

While other girls attend their fav’rite
cocktail bar
Sipping Martinis, munching caviar
There’s a girl who’s really putting
them to shame
Rosie is her name

All the day long whether rain or shine
She’s a part of the assembly line
She’s making history,
working for victory
Rosie the Riveter
Keeps a sharp lookout for sabotage
Sitting up there on the fuselage
That little frail can do more than a
male will do
Rosie the Riveter

Rosie’s got a boyfriend, Charlie
Charlie, he’s a Marine
Rosie is protecting Charlie
Working overtime on the
riveting machine
When they gave her a production “E”
She was as proud as a girl could be
There’s something true about
Red, white, and blue about
Rosie the Riveter

Everyone stops to admire the scene
Rosie at work on the B-Nineteen
She’s never twittery, nervous or jittery
Rosie the Riveter
What if she’s smeared full of
oil and grease
Doing her bit for the old Lendlease
She keeps the gang around
They love to hang around
Rosie the Riveter

Rosie buys a lot of war bonds
That girl really has sense
Wishes she could purchase
more bonds
Putting all her cash into national
defense
Senator Jones who is “in the know”
Shouted these words on the radio
Berlin will hear about
Moscow will cheer about
Rosie the Riveter!

You can listen to the song here (it starts with the second verse).

How does this song portray women who go to work for the war effort? How is this image of women different from others we have encountered in the class? How does the “Rosie the Riveter” character represent a change or departure from earlier ideas about how women should act, or participate in national efforts?

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20 comments on “React Post: Rosie the Riveter

  1. Zoe Evans says:

    This song fully depicts the attitude change of women from the Jazz Age into the age of the war effort. The song starts out with talking about the women who were sophisticated and independent, yet girly. It goes on to say that Rosie puts them to shame. I believe that this is true. The previous age claimed that the women were independent and glamorous, but during the war effort, they needed a new type of independent woman. They needed women who were strong, emotionally and physically. These women came in and took over factory jobs, nursing, and, the hardest of all, became in charge of the house. This is why Rosie “put them to shame.” In today’s world, it is extremely difficult to be a single mother and taking care of a household also takes a physical and emotional tole on people. Imagine being a single mother, having to provide for your children, and working in a factory all day while your husband is off at war. These women were truly independent in the way that they could not only be strong for their children and themselves, but also for their country. Rosie fully embodies the character of the independent and strong woman, inside and out.

  2. Jia Wang says:

    Women’s contribution during the wartime was imponderable. They really did a great job in war factories. This song portrayed the great capacity of women. They can do work more than men. They were independent and confident. They have passion to work for the country and support the frontline of the war. This song was popular and it released the new concept of women. Women were no longer to stay in home and be a housewife. This song also illustrated the different situation before the war. Due to the great depression, women were not encouraged to work outside and to take the place of men’s job. Even some women work outside, they worked for education and more in home. However, “Rosie the Riveter” demonstrated the women’s change of social position. All the men went to the front line and women workers were their backup!

  3. Bethany Curl says:

    During World War II, most of the able bodied men were shipped off in the army leaving women to pick up the slack on the industrial side of things. As a result of this the idea women most drastically changed from the delicate and weak woman who belonged in the home to a strong and determined woman who could do anything a man could do. “Rosie the Riveter” is the embodiment of this new idea. She is getting acknowledgement and respect for the work she is doing “on the assembly line.” This song talks about how she supports the war saying how she buys war bonds and puts all her cash into the national defense, and how she is working over time to protect her boyfriend Charlie the Marine. Even in the first two stanzas how it says “That little frail can do more than a male will ever do” or how she is putting most of those delicate girls to shame. This entire idea of the working woman, of equality of genders stems from this time period.

  4. Claire Wayand says:

    Women are usually viewed as weak and they are the ones who are meant to stay at home and take care of the house and children. “Rosie the Riveter” changes how people see women. During WW2 women were put to work and it actually happened to be that most of them did a better job than the men. This song shows that women are dedicated, hard workers and that they deserve a chance at any job a man can do. The images we looked at in class showed fancy girls in dresses cooking meals for their families. They were standing around watching as the men in the family did all the dirty work. Women were not treated as equals to the men and “Rose the Riveter” proves that women can and should be accepted into society to have the same rights as everyone else. This gradual change made it possible for women to enter into the Air Force, Army and Navy. Now all around the world women are not only staying at home but they have day jobs and are working right next to the men.

  5. Han says:

    The song describes the scene that women were happy to go work hard, and they had the same significant as men, it also tells people the change of society. Clearly that countries’ companies need more workers, and the government decided to lure women into working. It leads the confident, strong women need to work outside. As an important group in the society, women’s image was changed during the world war two. Women who were patriotic were no longer stayed at home, and they tried to help their country by their own power. Women became necessary in the society, and women became great. Women could work hard in the factory and could do more than men do. During men were fighting for the war, women were both work outside to make money or for their country, and look after well her house. How a women have these much energy? Women were strong and great! Rosie praised those women who work hard and the inspire of those should be learned.

  6. Vicky Ao says:

    In World War II, “Rosie the Riveter” helps millions of women’s who can worked. Women worked in the war factory which is making victory and making history. “Rosie the Riveter” also helps women’s civil rights, and also represented a change at that time. This image shows so different from the others that we have encountered in the class. During the great depression, women were not encouraged to work outside and to take the place of men’s job. We saw some images is that women are standing around the kitchen or taking care of children. The women in this image which is so strong, confidence and hard working. This song is strongly mentions that women’s position increasing at that time. And it all show that the women can be stronger than the men, women and men are equal.

  7. Alexey Zielinski says:

    For centuries women have been viewed as the masters of the house and all things to do with children, cooking and cleaning were their duty to their husbands. “Rosie The Riveter” clearly shows how the attitude toward women drastically changes in the face of annihilation during World War II. With all the men sent to Europe in order to combat Germany and the other members of the Axis, America was left as a ghost town filled with those that could not fight or were not required to such as the women, the too old or the too young. Those at home felt the need to contribute to the fight against the spreading violence in Europe in some small way whether collecting metal or taking care of the homestead. It was the women though that were left to manage the heavy workload left behind by the absence of men so when the call came looking for those able or willing to work there also was a wave of propaganda that sought to make it a fashion to be a woman that works. In the song “Rosie The Riveter” they describe her as a woman that the whole world loves and appreciates for her hard work while the old fashioned views of how women should be were slowly clipped off.

  8. Chris Wenger says:

    This song talks about what the life of a working woman during the war period is. While not all women apply themselves at jobs, “Rosie the Riveter” chooses to fight for what she believes in. Since she is not able to fight overseas, she contributes to the war by buying war bonds and working in a factory which supplies the war effort. She is proud to be supporting her the red, white and blue of America. This song shows how heroic and hard-working the women who participated in the war effort were. The age of war calls for a different type of women in America. This changes peoples views on what women are able to accomplish as opposed to the prior belief that women were unable to work or do other tasks. Overall, this song encourages a nationalistic feel of both the men and women of America who can all contribute to the war effort.

  9. Leona Du says:

    As soon as the man went to attend the World War II, industrial factories still need to go on since the industries are vital symbol for a country’s booming. The situations of lack of industries leading the millions of women went to work in new wartime industries as part of World War II. The song of “Rosie the Riveter” portray women go to work in the case of men to go to war and fight. In the other words, the scarcity of workers gives a chance to let women prove that they can work as well as men did. “She’s a part of the assembly line. She’s making history, working for victory.” It is no exaggeration to say women are not only making history of wonderfully changing role between housewife and worker, but also working for the victory of helping faster victory.”She was as proud as a girl could be.” The “Rosie the Riveter” character represents a departure from earlier ideas about women should stay at home since women have no ability to work as good as mine does. “Everyone stops to admire the scene, Rosie at work on the B-Nineteen.” The opportunity of women working in the factory changes the participation of unequal between women and men.

  10. Shirley Li says:

    At the begging, the life of women was for their husbands, their children and their families. They did not have many opportunities to get jobs to offer their own life. However,the poem named “Rosie the Riveter” showed us a change of women. Their life not only bonded with their families anymore. They had chance to work in factories World War II, and the work were even better than men’s. Lots of men were sent to fight during the World War II, so the towns left few people except women. People in town wanted to build their society even there were only a few men. Therefore, women played an important role in the society. Women were the strong support for the men who at the front line, and the heavy work also left on women.”Rosie the Riveter” described how women worked, and how strong women were. According to this poem, we could see that women were gradually accepted by the society, and women’s social position increased at that time. The old view of women had been changed because they could live like men. Women really supported the society during the World War Il that showed the powerful ability of women.

  11. Catherine Liu says:

    The women who lived in World War II this time period, they worked like men, and men were on the battlefield to fight the Germans. Women threw the old idea “motherhood”, go to factories and produce products to show they were supporting the war as well instead of stayed in home with their children and waited for their husband who would or not come back. As the song said:” she’s making history”, from this line, the version for women had been totally changed. Women became more strong in both physical and psychological way, I could imagine a picture which a lot of women were working in the factory, they looked so happy and excited, and they believed their husbands would come back with victory. This song changed the women’s attitude from Jazz Age to World War effort. Women who in Jazz age were modern but people couldn’t accept them, but the women who in World War II were changed in very positive way. In the song “Rosie the Riveter”, women became more independent and brave in their mind, pretty was not the only issue in women’s life anymore.

  12. Jake Hylton says:

    For centuries before this time, women were viewed as inferior to men. Their skills were believed to be best used in the household, cooking and cleaning and taking care of children. It wasn’t until around this time that women started gaining respect and being recognized as useful members of society. Many men were going off to war, leaving their women and their jobs behind. This left jobs open for the women, and they were given an opportunity to help outside of their homes. During this time, we needed a lot of help going towards the war effort, and this is when we realized how important women were. They worked the assembly lines and made it so that our soldiers had everything that they needed. Rosie the Riveter symbolizes all the women who worked hard to help the soldiers when our country was in need of workers. These women were proud to be supporting the war effort.

  13. Patrick says:

    This song represents what the average woman would want for themselves and what they are willing to do for there country. With all of the young men in the war effort someone had to step up and it was the women. They start working in the factories making clothes for the soldiers and guns. They start proving to themselves and to the men that they can do what we as men can do. The war proved to be a chance for both the men and the women but mostly for the women they had the chance to not have to stay in the house all day and cook and clean and they took it and it worked out well for the women and the soldiers in the pacific and in Europe. The song can also be seen as a symbol of happiness for the women because they weren’t serving there men anymore they were serving for there country. There way of serving was different than the soldiers way of serving. They didn’t want to stay home and act as support from safety they wanted to be in the action helping defeat the Nazi’s and the Japanese forces. It is a very patriotic song saying basically that the women have the soldiers backs.

  14. Michael Dailey says:

    This song portrays women that go to work for the war effort at patriotic women. Their husbands or boyfriends are risking their lives to fight for the U.S. and keep them free. They are picking up the slack that has been left after these men have gone to war. They are taking the initiative and working unlike the upper class women who think they are to high and mighty to work. The woman portrayed in this song isn’t working because she is forced to, she is working because she wants to support America and to help build and supply weaponry for these soldiers fighting. Women before this time were known for being house wives. Meaning all they did was stay home, watch the kids, and make dinner for the me when they got home. But now these women have another role in society besides being home all the time. While these men fight, the ladies can work to help these men. Rosie the Riveter was shown as a hardcore, patriotic woman. She was always buying war bonds, wishing she could buy more, working all the time, getting dirty and being strong and useful. Most women were afraid to get dirty and probably didn’t want to work in a hard job. But Rosie showed people that not only men can do the hardest of jobs.

  15. Hongkai Huang says:

    This is a lullaby or poet that compliments a woman who worked for military factory. She is strong and hard working, she produce more than other female labors, and she is probably stronger than a man. She has a boyfriend as a marine. And finally she bought bonds for supporting the war or America. This song differentiates the woman from other women in that period. She doesn’t hold a family or teach children, she works for country. If the song didn’t mention her gender, the readers would probably imagine this is a man. This woman is directly what America needed during the war because she was helpful. This woman could probably be a represent of other women during the war period. Most women have family or fall in love, and their husband or boyfriend have to go to the battlefield for country’s benefit. The only thing they could do is to support the war, and work hard as they could to get the back. The war compelled women to do so, and as a result the formal images and jobs of women changed environmentally, and this change gave women some status in the society, so they gain more rights in the future.

  16. Sara Lewin says:

    This song is telling us how the women started to change people´s mind. Women make a big step when they show people that they can do more than the work that they used to do at home, they are showing the boys that they can be stronger than what they thought they were and they are showing them that they can work harder than them. Women just want to be part of the history like the boys are, and working more is how they will show people how they are going to be history for their country.
    Rosie the Riveter represents how she made that movement of the women. Rosie instead of being home she was doing history, working really hard and she also shows how she also make her relationship with her boyfriend to work well. We can see that she is loyal and looking forward of what she has, she was one of the girls that was thinking more all the time.

  17. Bo Yoo says:

    Definition of being a woman usually shown as to be weak and not really independent. Even they are grown, and finally became more like independent, they usually only need to take care of house works and children. However during the World War II, Women needed to be changed. Women even needed to be stronger in emotion and also physical. “Rosie the Riveter” well showed of being a strong woman. The song describe how strong does woman need to be during the War. Women were treating as much as guys were, and also they were doing factory jobs or nursing too. People made her as a roll model and also people need to be like her and be stronger. If we take a look in modern, they are a lot of woman who works both at house and outside of it.

  18. Anna Breeding says:

    During World War II, there was a huge increase in women who went to work for the war effort. All of the men were in the war, so the grunt work was left to the women. This song is appreciating the women who do this, using Rosie the Riveter to symbolize them. Before World War II, women were seen as more fragile and meant for taking care of the home and the children. Rosie the Riveter is tough, and the song is supposed to show that being tough is a good thing. The song should get women excited to work in factories and support the war effort because Rosie the Riveter did it, and every one admires her. Previously, women were kind of pushed out of national efforts, and they weren’t encouraged to participate. But Rosie gave them a new perspective. They needed to do what the men could no longer do, and show that they were equal. They could do anything that a man could do.

  19. Benjamin Hewitt says:

    This song a great description of allot or most of the women’s lives during the war. I think during this time it really signified that women were definitely capable or doing the same jobs as men and in allot of cases working harder then men would have. Sexism was huge before this and played a huge role in keeping women out of the labor force. Yet “Rosie the Riveter” proves all the ideas false with her hard work and motivation. After this not only is the voice of women changed in society yet it has a real effect now. All the previous sexist ideas that women couldn’t do the same work as men is proven wrong. This is truly a pivotal time in history where women stand up and make a huge contribution on the war effort with the work they put in factories and jobs all over the country.

  20. Andrew Bowman says:

    As a propaganda piece and as a socioeconomic statement, this song illustrates clearly the way American idealism has changed from a time of plentiful piece to a time of war. In the sense of propaganda, this show how the government wants the ideal woman, and citizen, to have their entire life devoted to helping the war cause. This also shows how people thought of most women, going to parties and drinking, a change from the stay at home mom of earlier years. In the sense of socioeconomic art, the song gives an excellent prognosis, of how women picked up the slack that the vacant soldiers left when they went of to fight. Underlining the obvious situation, the song still portrays women as stay at home, even if involved int eh war effort, the men all went out and “did business in a international sense, while the women stayed at home (America) and helped the men’s efforts as well, supporting them.

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